Meet Anna and Dave, the Permacyclists July 14, 2011Posted by Tracy in : Uncategorized , add a comment
Meet Dave and Anna, the Permacyclists.
She was a corporate lawyer from Brussels; he was a sociologist from New York. Neither of them was happy with their chosen profession, and after a great deal of soul searching, they decided to do what many dream of but few actually do: They quit their jobs, studied permaculture, bought bicycles and headed off across Africa, pedaling and working their way through 12 countries, 12,000 kilometers and 16 months from organic farm to organic farm, sharing what they’d learned along the way.
Now they’ve landed in Mexico and are launching a Phase 2 of their journey, but with a difference. This time they’re bringing a video camera and sound equipment, and documenting the stories of people working on solutions to the many environmental problems they have learned about in their travels. Their goal is to make it to the Earth Summit in Rio in June 2012. And this time they’re going by bus, instead of bike, to give them time to do reporting, writing and producing for their blog.
I was inspired by their story and by their plan, since in some ways it parallels my own – so we got together and shared stories. Here’s a little bit of theirs.
Giving Thanks, Making Peace November 25, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Colombia, El Salvador, Esperanza Project, Guatemala, Mexico, Mexico City, Travel wisdom , 5comments
MEXICO CITY, Mexico – Thanksgiving day – I awoke this morning far from home and family but filled with a profound sense of gratitude.
Grateful for the sun that was just beginning to brighten the sky outside my window; grateful for the dear friends who have given me a home in this city of cities. Grateful for the health and the support of my family, who continue to love me faithfully despite my wandering ways.
Most of all on this day, I’m grateful for the path I’ve been given this year, a path that has led me from inspiration to inspiration as I traveled from Mexico to Argentina, seeking to learn from those who are each changing our world in their own way.
It’s not enough to be biodegradeable… January 31, 2010Posted by Tracy in : Guadalajara, Mexico, Sustainability , add a comment
Life in Guadalajara is not so different from life in Houston. Sometimes, only the language is different.
My friend Alicia, like me, struggles to remember to bring the cloth shopping bags when she goes to the supermarket. This day, she remembered. Here’s a little reminder she likes to keep handy:
“It’s not enough to be biodegradeable; it’s necessary to be bioAGREEABLE.”
I liked the way this clever slogan captured one of the most important principles of sustainability: “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.” In that order.
A special appeal December 31, 2009Posted by Tracy in : Esperanza Project, Latin America, Sustainability , add a comment
Somewhere to the south of us, an indigenous farmer is raising his voice against the eradication of ancient seed stocks by corporate interests. An army of volunteer gardeners is sowing a food security system on rooftops, patios and abandoned lots. A tribe in the Amazon is using Google Earth to give virtual tours of its ancestral forests in a bid to build global support for their preservation. A troupe of young bicyclists is plotting colorful new ways to capture the public’s attention and steer its city policy toward the path of sustainability.
As forests burn, icecaps melt and sea levels rise, people at the grassroots aren’t waiting for the government to fix things for them. Nowhere is this more evident than in Latin America.
Lighting out for the South November 24, 2009Posted by Tracy in : Cuba, Esperanza Project, Latin America, Sustainability , add a comment
Today I will follow in the footsteps of Ernest Hemingway, Che Guevara and Celia Cruz to the irrepressible rhythm of the Cuban son – emanating from Cuban human beings, not my CD collection or a cover band in downtown Houston. Far from the Bayou City, I’ll savor the sunset breezes on the Malecón, the famous boulevard that stretches the length of the city along the Bay of Havana. As many a tourist has done before me, I’ll sit at Hemingway’s favorite bar and have a mojito in his memory.
And while I will embrace the cultural magic of this legendary land, my journey goes beyond culture to something more essential, something universal and urgent.
Greening the barrios in Mexico City October 28, 2009Posted by Tracy in : Esperanza Project, Latin America, Mexico, Sustainability, Uncategorized , add a comment
Saving your garbage is a tough sell in a place where gardening is seen as peasant labor. But that doesn’t stop Dulce María Vega from rolling up her sleeves, going door-to-door and recruiting her neighbors for a grand mission.
Dulce is the friendly face of sustainability in her neighborhood. With more than 30,000 residents, Lomas de Plateros is one of Mexico City’s largest apartment complexes. When she first teamed up with Noelle Romero of Organi-K, a local environmental group, to establish a pilot Ecobarrios project at the massive complex, people thought she’d lost her senses.
Mexico City Ecological Park: A wilderness restored October 22, 2009Posted by Tracy in : Esperanza Project, Latin America, Mexico, Nature tourism, Sustainability, ecotourism , 3comments
This could be any other forest on the outskirts of any other city, I think to myself as the path curves through a grassy field, past a burst of orange sunflowers and into the shade of a mossy oak grove. Then Guadalupe stops and gestures for us to take a seat on the cool boulders in the clearing.
“Close your eyes,” she says. “Breathe deeply. Feel the peace that is in this place.”
Far in the distance, the murmur of traffic dissolves into the timeless rustle of the wind in the trees.
I do feel the peace; but my mind is straying back to what Guadalupe has just told me about this place, and it defies imagining.
Just two decades ago, this ferny hillside was virtually indistinguishable from the city below. And had it not been for Ajusco’s position as one of the most important aquifer recharge zones in Central Mexico, and a political drama that is still playing out to this day, it would have remained that way.
Bringing nature to the mall September 16, 2009Posted by Tracy in : Nature tourism, Sustainability, Utah, ecotourism , add a comment
Images featured the elegantly woodsy Swaner Ecocenter surrounded with waving grasses, long-necked waterfowl, blue skies and the dramatic Wasatch Range. So it was no small surprise that Nora, our guide, pulled into a shopping center right across from WalMart and dropped us off. “It’s right over there,” she said. “I’ll park the car and then come join you.”
I contemplated getting a gelato first, or maybe window-shopping at the little boutique. Then I remembered why I was there.
It turns out the the pictures didn’t lie. This is no ordinary shopping center, and the Swaner family is a big reason why. The ecocenter sits at the heart of 1,200 acres this family bought and saved from development and, land which has been restored into a surprisingly wild habitat right off I-80. It’s tucked into the Newpark Town Center, which is striving for LEEDS environmental design certification (the ecocenter has already set the standard with a platinum LEEDS designation, the highest ranking). Located as it is on the edge of this mixed-use condo community and resort area, it’s ideally located to reach out to shoppers and residents who might otherwise not give a thought to visiting an educational center dedicated to nurturing and raising awareness about the environment.
Here’s a sneak preview:
Roads Less Traveled hits the Houston Green Scene August 11, 2009Posted by Tracy in : Houston, Sustainability, Texas, ecotourism , add a comment
I’m excited to announce some new collaborations that will be taking Roads Less Traveled to a greater audience and in a greener direction.
Channel 39’s Going Green With Yolanda Green, Houston’s only TV program dedicated to sustainability, is now featuring my blog on its website, www.39online.com. Going Green is an exciting initiative in itself, with Yolanda bringing conservation initiatives to a whole new audience. From the new smart grid technology to invasive species, Yolanda is on it, and all her episodes and a whole lot more can be viewed on the website. Since my focus is sustainable travel – including attractions here at home in Houston – it seemed a perfect fit. Scroll down to the area next to Going Green Highlights to find Roads Less Traveled.
I’ll also be collaborating with Houston Green Scene, which will feature a weekly column from my blog pertaining to sustainability at home and sustainable travel elsewhere. Houston Green Scene is an innovative new website and forum founded by local entrepreneur Mona Metzger covering green initiatives in the Houston area.
Especially if you live in the Houston area, but even if you don’t, take a minute to check out Going Green With Yolanda Green and the Houston Green Scene. You can also follow them on Twitter – @HoustonGreenScn and @YolandaGreen39 – and on Facebook.
Other environmental initiatives I’ve become involved in are the Last Organic Outpost, an urban farm in the inner city that’s currently planning a knockout Harvest Festival and the Transition Houston group, part of a rapidly growing global movement preparing for a sustainable transition to a less petroleum-dependent future. More on both of these later — but meanwhile, it’s good to know that there’s a whole lot going on in Houston’s green scene, and I’m proud to be a part of it.
Marvelous Matagorda July 25, 2009Posted by Tracy in : Nature tourism, Sustainability, Texas, ecotourism , 1 comment so far
Hundreds of miles of coastline stretch from Galveston to the Coastal Bend. I’d always wanted to explore that stretch in between where the Colorado River meets the sea. But aside from a state park on an island that is no longer accessible, nobody I spoke to could say much about what I might find there.
This only made me more curious. So one day I picked up the phone and started calling around. And before I knew it, I was packing my bags and headed for the coast.
What I found surprised me: spectacular beaches, abundant wildlife, great food, a fascinating history, fishing to die for and friendly folks who will make you feel right at home.
What I didn’t find was an overabundance of tourists. A couple from Fort Worth, a father and daughter from Houston, a family from Pearland and a handful of locals — but mostly, miles of white sand pounded by surf and backed by graceful dunes.
Last week I got to spend a couple of glorious days soaking up some of the best this region has to offer. On Aug. 9, the story will appear in the Houston Chronicle and the San Antonio Express-News. Meanwhile, here’s a preview.